Speak to one of our Camping & Outdoor experts. Call us on 02 888 10 333 or chat with us Mon - Fri 9 am to 5:30 pm AEST.

Portable Solar Panels: Popular Uses and Safe Set Up Tips

Portable Solar Panels: Popular Uses and Safe Set Up Tips

Portable solar panels are some of the most energy-efficient and useful products known to man. These devices can be used to charge appliances when you are on the go. Portable solar panels that are manufactured today are more efficient, smaller in size and easier to carry.

You can clip these devices on to your belt or put them in your pocket. You can use larger versions of portable solar panels for charging bigger appliances. Below are some of the best uses for portable solar panels.

Portable solar panels popular uses

Charge your laptop

A laptop is one of the appliances most people carry on trips. Whether it is a business trip, a vacation or visiting relatives, a laptop is an essential tool for many. You can use it for work, communication and entertainment.

A portable solar panel that generates electricity from sunshine can be used to recharge your laptop as and when needed. It is advisable to keep spare batteries on hand, so that you can work even on cloudy days and at night.

Charge your cellphone

A cell phone is another valuable accessory that people include in their travel bag. It can come handy when you want to call people on the road and for assistance in case of emergencies. Use a solar panel to generate the electricity you need for recharging your cell phone so that you remain unaffected even if you forget your phone charger at home.

Charge your MP3 Player

Whether you use it on daily walks or runs or as a form of entertainment on the go, a portable music player is an essential. You can recharge your iPod anywhere, anytime if you have portable solar panels.

Power Up Your RV

For long trips on an RV, an electricity generator can be bulky, noisy and expensive to purchase and maintain. On the other hand, portable solar panels can be easily installed and used on your RV.

You do not have to deal with the annoying noise form a generator, while the solar electricity fulfils all your requirements.

Power up your campsite

Camping outdoors is a fun activity enjoyed by many. Portable solar panels provide safe, energy-friendly means of electricity generation in your camping site.

Heat water in remote camping areas

Whether you live in a remote area or whether you are on vacation or camping in one, the need for hot water is usually met by using fuel or electricity. Both these methods can be cumbersome.

If you use solar panels, you can easily heat water for your cooking or cleaning needs. You can also use the electricity for cooking on an electric grill, stove or barbecue.

Charge Car Batteries

Many people use car power outlets for charging mobile appliances. This creates strain on the car battery, which can drain fast. With solar power panels on hand, you can have a backup ready at all times, which you can use for the car battery and also for charging appliances.


Setting up your portable solar panel Safely

Have you ever looked at solar panels installed on buildings and wondered if you should get them? You probably would like to set up a small, portable solar system and get a first-hand experience on how to do it. Or maybe you are just a DIY-buff.

In either case, we've got you covered.

Your Power Requirements

Solar power is an extremely flexible source of power when it comes to size. You need to first decide how big a system you need, i.e., the amount of power required.

The first step is to create a list of appliances that you want to power from your portable solar panels. This can include anything from some LED lights, mobile phones, a small table fan, or a coffee maker.

Next, add up the power consumption of these devices. Suppose the lights total 30 watts, mobile phones 10 W, the fan 20 W, and 30 or 40 W for other small devices.

Choosing The Solar Panels

Once you have calculated the amount of total power required, it is time to decide the size and type of solar panels. Let us assume that considering the appliances mentioned above, your total power requirement is 80 W.

In this case, it would be reasonable to go with 100-watt solar panels, accounting for efficiency losses and unpredictable sunlight levels.

You can either have a single 100 W, 12-volt monocrystalline solar panel or two 50-watt solar panels. You can choose between regular panels, flexible panels, and rugged, portable solar panels.

Although all solar panels function the same at the fundamental level, each of these has its advantages. Regular, rigid solar panels are the least expensive, while flexible solar panels are extremely durable and easy to carry.

Portable solar panels come with protected edges, making them slightly more durable. It's easy to set them in the right position, thanks to mounting kickstands. It is thus convenient to install a solar panel system using portable modules. Portable folding solar panels are another, more compact option.

Battery and Charge Controller

A battery is needed to use solar energy during the night, and a solar controller for safe battery charging. Before deciding what size of batteries to buy, we need to know how much energy needs to be stored. The 100-watt, 12-volt solar panels we decided upon will generate about 400 Wh of energy, assuming you are at a location with 4 hours of full sunshine availability.

To have a battery bank that can store the entire 400-watt hours, the following calculation should give us the battery size in ampere-hours (Ah):

Wh ÷ V = Ah

Hence, 400 ÷ 12 = 34 Ah

Considering some buffer for battery efficiency and depth of discharge (the actual discharging level a battery can handle), it would be better to go with a 50 Ah or 60 Ah battery. Different types of batteries are available for solar kits, but to minimize maintenance hassles, go for sealed maintenance free options either lead acid or lithium batteries. Preferably deep cycle batteries, if you want more energy per volume.

The Inverter

A power inverter is necessary to convert DC power from your solar panels or batteries to AC. You can use DC supported appliances that your batteries power directly, eliminating the need for an inverter. However, it is recommended to have an inverter-based system to operate regular appliances as well.

The inverter should handle the power conversion when all the appliances are being operated simultaneously, while also having some safety margin to account for a possible power surge.

The Wiring

Now comes the most critical part of installing your own solar panel system wiring. If you are going with a 12V system, you can have a single 100 watt 12 volt panel or connect your 2 x 50 W panels in parallel. If you are setting up a 24 V system, connect them in series by connecting the positive terminal of one panel to the negative of the second.

While setting up a solar panel system, ensure the panels are not exposed to the sunlight, as DC current can be harmful. It is crucial to connect or disconnect solar panels safely.

Once all the connections are done, you can set up your panels facing sunlight directly at a suitable angle, hence starting your solar charging. Make sure your panels remain clean and scratch-free for the best experience.